Hearing loss is the most common chronic condition associated with depression in people 60 years or older (JAMA Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery. 2017), particularly in women. The National Council on Aging found that wearing hearing aids helps prevent social isolation and depression. Most impressive is the study published in the Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics showing a marked improvement in emotional, social and cognitive conditions after wearing hearing aids for just three months.
Individuals with hearing loss show a 40% accelerated rate of cognitive decline (Frank Lin, MD., Ph.D., Johns Hopkins). With significant to profound the hearing loss, there is a greater the likelihood of developing a cognitive disorder and the steeper decline in mental function. Even those with a very mild hearing loss (even before the hearing loss becomes noticeable), these individuals show accelerated rates of gray matter shrinkage in the brain.
“Belongingness” is a basic and innate human emotional need. According to Roy Baumeister and Mark Leary, all human beings need a certain minimnum quantiy of regular, satisfying interactions. Inability to meet this need results in loneliness and mental distress. The desire to form and maintain social bonds is among the most powerful human motives. Without social bonds, the ability to self-regulate suffers. (Baumesiter, R. F., DeWall, C. N., Ciarocco, N. J., & Twenge, J.M. (2005), Social exclusion impairs self-regulation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, (88)4, 589.)
Humans have a profound need to connect with others and gain acceptance into social groups. When relationships deteriorate or when social bonds are broken, depression may set in. The world over, in every country, culture and religion, people are most happy when they are with those they care about and love. It is a frustrating and isolating feeling to be with those who you hold dear only to feel left out because you do not understand the conversations and cannot participate in sharing. According to Steger, M. F., & Kashdan, (T. B. 2009) people who are depressed often feel unable to satisfy their need for belonging, leading to having fewer intimate relationships. They also induce negative feelings and reactions in others, which consequently elicits rejections. The effects of rejection are more potent than the effects of acceptance because rejection causes emotional hurt and pain (Buckley, Winkel and Leary).
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Get a baseline hearing test and brain processing evaluation now. If you have any hearing or processing difficulties, seek immediate treatment.
Dr. Ronna Fisher, Au.D.
Founder & President
Hearing Health Center, Inc.